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Love Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams
(23 December 1782)

Excerpt:

My Dearest Friend,

…should I draw you the picture of my Heart, it would be what I hope you still would Love; tho it contained nothing new; the early possession you obtained there; and the absolute power you have ever maintained over it; leaves not the smallest space unoccupied. I look back to the early days of our acquaintance; and Friendship, as to the days of Love and Innocence; and with an indescribable pleasure I have seen near a score of years roll over our Heads, with an affection heightened and improved by time -- nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the Image of the dear untitled man to whom I gave my Heart...

Abigail Adams (Nov 11, 1744 - Oct 28, 1818) advocated an expanded role for women in public affairs during the formative days of the United States. Married to John Adams (1797-1801) she was an invaluable partner to him as he developed his political career, culminating in the presidency of the United States.

In 1761, the then 17-year-old Abigail Smith spent hours together with her 26-year-old suitor, John Adams.  Their hours apart were consumed with thoughts of each other, expressed in playful and passionate love letters.  The intimacy of their courtship remained throughout their marriage, as did their copious letters. 

From their initial courtship in 1761, through their time as President and First Lady over three decades later, the couple shared insights on their lives and times through their letters. John and Abigail Adams wrote over a thousand letters to each other during the months (sometimes years) that John was away from home helping found a new nation.

As was the custom of the time, they adopted pen names:

  • Abigail was Diana, after the Roman goddess of the moon and later she adopted the pen name, Portia, wife of the great Roman politician Brutus.
  • John adopted the name, Lysander, after the Spartan war hero.

John often addressed his letters to his "Dear Adoreable" or "My dear Diana," or “My Dear Portia,” but Abigail addressed her letters to John, as she would for the rest of her life, to "My Dearest Friend."


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